The Internet TV wars heat up as Playstation Vue picks up Disney, ESPN, and ABC

PlayStation Vue
Sony’s Sling TV competitor Playstation Vue just scored a major coup. The online TV service has finally reached a licensing deal with Disney, adding on the media giant’s coveted networks, including Disney Channel, ABC, and the crown jewel of live sports, ESPN.

Announced this morning, the deal allows Sony’s Internet TV venture to better match up with rival Sling TV, which struck its own deal with Disney before launching last January through some fancy negotiating by parent company Dish Network.

Under the new agreement, Vue subscribers will have access to a wide variety of coveted ESPN channels like ESPN2, and ESPN College, as well as adding the ability for local ABC affiliates to opt in to the service, according to Variety. Vue already offers affiliates from NBC, Fox, and CBS, so this latest deal essentially completes the broadcast network package. In addition, Vue will offer on-demand content from Disney and ESPN stations, allowing viewers to catch up on shows for up to 3 days after air.

One of the only major Internet TV choices for cable expats, Vue launched in March to relatively little fanfare. Unlike Sling TV, which offers a cord cutter-friendly base package of around 20 popular channels for $20 per month, Vue came online with a more bloated selection, and a price to match. Offering packages that start at $50 per month and stretch up to $70, Vue’s overall approach is strikingly similar to cable, including cable’s notorious tacking on of off-brand channels like Desination America that users are forced to pay for, whether they watch them or not.

Unlike Sling TV, which just recently added Chromecast to its growing list of device options, Vue is also relegated to a short list of streaming hardware, available only on Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and iPad, as well as being limited to a handful of cities, including Chicago, Dallas, LA, Miami, NYC, Philadelphia, and the San Francisco Bay Area.

The service does claim a victory over Sling with its offering of DVR-like playback, which allows viewers to save programming in the cloud for up to 28 days, as well as offering better sports options beyond ESPN, including a wide variety of Fox sport networks. Still, Vue’s limitations, and high price have kept it from catching fire as a go-to option for those looking to ditch cable or satellite.

Both Sling TV and Playstation Vue may soon have another competitor in Apple’s rumored service, expected to offer app-based live TV options to pair with the new Apple TV streaming box for around $30-40 per month. For now, however, Sling TV and Vue are the biggest players on the Internet TV block, and the latest deal with Disney gives Vue a much more rounded selection.

The launch time and pricing for adding the new channels has not yet been announced, with Sony saying details will follow soon.

Here’s the list of all channels that will become available under the new deal: ABC owned stations group, ABC Family (becoming Freeform in January), Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN College Extra, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Classic, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Bases Loaded, Fusion, Longhorn Network, SEC-ESPN Network.

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